Today, we announced the end of our Save 20 campaign, as we are now confident we can meet Auckland’s normal water demand for this year.
An off-the-charts rainfall event in early March caused massive slips in the Hūnua Ranges, filling the city’s water supply dams with silt. This silt significantly reduced the volume of water that we were able to treat at our Ardmore Water Treatment Plant. In response, we urged the community to reduce their water use by 20 litres per person per day – to Save 20 – in order to lower the likelihood of partially-treated water entering supply, requiring a boil water notice.
At a press conference earlier this morning, Watercare spokesperson Mark Bourne said that we had been gradually increasing the capacity of our Ardmore plant over the past few weeks.
“After the “off-the-charts” rainfall event in early March, Auckland’s water supply situation was fragile with our Ardmore plant sometimes shutting down for hours at a time,” said Bourne.
“Our team was working around the clock to run the plant manually in order to stabilise production. They were also running our four other metropolitan plants at full-steam.
“Since 15 March, we have been slowly increasing the capacity of our Ardmore plant to 230 million litres per day. At the same time, we have been adjusting production at our other plants to sustainable levels.
“This means the five plants that serve people from Pukekohe to Waiwera can now reliably produce 500 million litres of water a day. We are confident that this is enough to meet Auckland’s normal water demand for this time of year, and we are pleased to call an end to our Save 20 campaign.”
Bourne said that Auckland has very resilient water infrastructure but the volume of rain that fell in a short period on 7-8 March was unprecedented.
“Our city has a very resilient water supply system. Despite being hit by a storm that was far worse than Cyclone Bola, everyone still had water that was safe to drink straight from the tap.
“But two months’ rainfall in 12 hours would test the best infrastructure in the world.
“Due to massive slips in the Hūnua Ranges pushing silt into our water supply dams, we did need to ask Aucklanders to voluntarily reduce their water use for a few weeks. And they responded, with overwhelmingly positive results. For that, we’re extremely thankful.
“We can assure Aucklanders that we will be reviewing how we responded to this event and identifying what we can learn from it.
“Already, we are working with Auckland Council to identify measures that can be implemented to manage slips in the Hūnua Ranges; and we’re investigating how we can adapt our Ardmore plant so that it can treat water with high levels of silt more easily.
“Our company is committed to upgrading its assets to ensure our customers receive safe and reliable services. Over the next 10 years, we will invest over $1.9 billion on water infrastructure alone – securing new water sources and building new treatment plants, storage reservoirs and pipes.
While we have called an end to the Save 20 campaign, we are still encouraging Aucklanders to use water wisely.
“Hopefully, over the past few weeks people will have discovered how easy it is to reduce their water use and will keep it up. With volumetric charging, it will have a positive impact on their water bills,” said Bourne.
“What this recent event has proven is that we’re a big city with a big heart.
“We have shown that in times of need, we can join forces to preserve the health and wellbeing of our diverse community.”